Sunday, December 16, 2012

Hyvää itsenäisyyspäivää, Suomi! (myöhästynyt)

This blog's title is brought to you courtesy of Google Translate, because I don't actually speak Finnish. It means, "Happy Independence Day, Finland! (Belated)"

Seriously, though, how many "a"s with umlauts/diaereses does one word need?

So, December 6th is Finnish Independence Day (a.k.a. the July 4th of Finland.) I had no idea. 

Reader, you may or may not be aware that the "TK" in "ATK" is short for "Tikkanen," a nice Finnish name (it means woodpecker). That's right, my people (at least some of my people) came to America from Finland. And though I don't speak Finnish or know much about Finnish history and culture (except what I've seen on a 60 Minutes piece about how Finns love to do the tango)  I couldn't pass up the chance to attend the National Day celebration at the Finnish embassy on December 6. 

Finns tangoing in the snow

I was very excited to attend Finnish National Day. Even though I suppose I really shouldn't claim to be Finnish (for all the reasons stated above), I do anyways--always proudly proclaiming to anyone who asks that I am half Finnish! (And a quarter Croatian! Got to give a shout out to the Croats.)  However, at an event hosted by Finnish diplomats with real live Finnish-speaking Finnish people, a fourth generation half Finnish, non-Finnish speaking American who knows nothing about the country is not particularly impressive to anyone. Especially since among the people I went with were a real live Finnish person and his American wife.

Still the people were very gracious and humored me. My friend's husband (the actual Finnish guy) explained the story of Finnish independence. (Take that Bolsheviks!)  He would also point out all the Finnish people in attendance when I wondered how many of the people at the party were actual Finns. Like some folks have gay-dar, he has a solid Finn-dar and could point at random people engaged in conversation and say, "She's a Finn. The other person is not." That's without hearing their conversation. I asked how he knew and he said, "You can just tell. They look Finnish." I should probably note that all the people he pointed to were about 6 feet tall with blond hair and blue eyes. Still, I'm not sure how he knew they were Finnish and not Norwegian or something.

Lastly, some lady teased me about how Americans can't say Finnish words or names correctly. I managed not to point out that the vowel to consonant ratio in their words is bananas. (I kid. She was super sweet).

So, to make a long story short, Happy Birthday, Finland! 95 years young as of December 6, 2012.